No country is growing so quickly – no country uses so much coal energy. A study shows: China ranks first among the industrialized countries when it comes to emissions of climate-damaging gases – by a wide margin.
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According to a new study, China’s annual greenhouse gas emissions exceed the emissions of all developed countries combined for the first time. In its comparison with the EU countries, the USA and the other members of the industrialized countries organization OECD, the US think tank Rhodium Group also estimates that the most populous country alone contributed 27 percent of global emissions of CO2 equivalents (CO2e) in 2019 – by far more than the US in second place with eleven percent. According to the calculations, India climbed to third place for the first time with 6.6 percent.
CO2 equivalents are a unit of measurement for standardizing the climate impact of different greenhouse gases that do not contribute to the greenhouse effect to the same extent and remain in the atmosphere for different periods of time. According to the study published on Friday, China’s emissions exceeded 14 gigatons of CO2e for the first time in 2019. They have tripled since 1990. They have increased by 25 percent over the past decade.
Worldwide emissions climbed to 52 tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2019 – an increase of 11.4 percent over the past decade, as the calculations showed. With around 1.4 billion people, China’s emissions per capita reach 10.1 tons and are therefore slightly below the OECD level of 10.5 tons – significantly lower than in the USA, which is calculated at 17.6 tons per capita contribute much more to global warming.
China consumes the most coal in the world
According to the study, the share per capita is likely to have increased in China in 2020 because its greenhouse gas emissions increased by around 1.7 percent, while in most other countries they decreased due to the corona pandemic. Cumulatively, however, China is “still a long way from” overtaking the historical contributions made by industrialized countries to the greenhouse effect since 1750. Carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Global warming is the result of long-accumulated and present-day greenhouse gases combined.
The strong growth and the high proportion of coal in China’s energy mix are considered to be the main reasons for the increase in its carbon dioxide emissions. As the largest consumer of coal in the world, China has promised new efforts in terms of climate protection. At the virtual climate summit at the invitation of US President Joe Biden, China’s state and party leader Xi Jinping promised two weeks ago that he would initially “strictly limit” the increase in coal consumption by 2025 and then “gradually reduce” it by 2030.
Industrialized countries want to sharpen climate targets
China’s president reiterated his promise that China would aim to peak its CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. This means that no carbon dioxide is emitted or the CO2 emissions are fully offset. While the government in Beijing has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, critics criticize the further expansion of coal energy at the local level and an increase in coal production. China bases its energy supply around 60 percent on coal.
At a world climate conference in Glasgow at the end of the year, all contractual partners are to sharpen their climate targets. Experts agree that much more has to be done around the world by 2030 if global warming is to remain well below two degrees, as agreed in 2015 by almost 200 countries in Paris. The earth has already warmed up by around 1.2 degrees – compared to pre-industrial times.